New Vice President for Human Resources Lorraine Goffe will prioritize career development and listening to employee needs


Photo courtesy of Northwestern Now

Lorraine Goffe assumed the position of Vice President of Human Resources last month and has already talked with groups such as NUSAC.

Iris Swarthout, Assistant Campus Editor

When Lorraine Goffe first entered the working world pursuing operations management, she said she enjoyed the people-side of the job. But working with others wasn’t always up Goffe’s alley. 

Growing up in England, Goffe described herself as a shy child. It was only when she moved to St. Louis, Missouri at age 14 that she became more comfortable around her peers. 

“(Moving to the states) got me to see people as individuals,” Goffe said. “I became interested in people because I had to learn how to adjust to people.”

Now Northwestern’s Vice President for Human Resources and Chief Human Resource Officer, she oversees employee compensation, well-being, talent acquisition and logistics, among other responsibilities. Goffe took on the role on Feb. 1 after previous Vice President for Human Resources Manuel Cuevas-Trisán left for a similar position at Harvard.

Executive Vice President Craig Johnson announced the search team named Goffe for the position in December. She previously held the same position at The Pennsylvania State University and similar ones at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Washington University in St. Louis.

“(Goffe) brings outstanding expertise and experience to the role,” Johnson said in a news release. “She has dedicated her career to improving HR operations and career outcomes for faculty and staff, and we look forward to welcoming her to our Northwestern community.”

Goffe said her experiences working in human resources over the years go hand-in-hand with her analytical skills. At PSU, she was tasked with helping employees navigate the onset and continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. 

She added that while the pandemic is truly unprecedented, her and the PSU human resources team tried to be as accommodating as possible.

“Very early on, one thing I shared with my leadership team (was) how we want people to feel we treat (them) after they come out on the other side,” Goffe said.

Goffe said she plans to continue upholding the tenets of her HR responsibilities at NU, including prioritizing the career development of employees, recruiting talent for the long-term and listening to the needs of those she oversees. 

When she was a few weeks into her position at NU, Goffe started a “listening tour,” which involved meeting with various leaders and units throughout the University, she said. She added NU’s Staff Advisory Council, an organization voicing staff concerns, is one of the units she works with to determine HR strategies.

“Looking at surveys, I would like to work with NUSAC on the best way to reach out to staff,” she said. “We want to make sure human resources is structured for success so that we have the right kinds of people in the right kinds of roles to move the organization forward.”

Vice President for Operations Luke Figora chaired the search committee for Goffe’s position, which launched its national search in June 2021. 

According to Figora, Goffe’s dedication to her work made her stand out among other candidates.

Northwestern had a very strong set of candidates for the VP for HR role, but from early in the search, the search committee was very interested in Lorraine,” Figora wrote in an email to The Daily.

Goffe said the NU community seems warm, collaborative and vibrant. She added that Chicago’s diversity appeals to her as well. 

And it was her initial exposure to the Midwest as a child that allowed her to become familiar with Chicago before her recent move here. However, Goffe said living in Chicago is an entirely different experience than visiting. 

“It’s certainly a new experience because I haven’t lived in Chicago before,” she said. “Living in Evanston is a different experience with warm communities and engaging people.”

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @swarthout_iris

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